If ever an opening game provided the kind of pressure and drama usually reserved for late-season action, the Marcellus boys soccer team did so when it ventured to Westhill last Tuesday night to start the 2008 season.
So it was quite fitting that the Mustangs and Warriors went to overtime -- and with a successful penalty kick by Chris Borncamp 3:02 into that extra period, Marcellus prevailed by a score of 2-1.
As the defending Section III Class B champions, the Mustangs and head coach Jennifer Griffin face a tall task, replacing nine starters from the team that went 18-4-1 a season ago while claiming its second sectional banner in three years.
By far, the biggest departures were that of Alex Rouse (who had four goals in last year's sectional final against Lowville) and of goalkeeper Kyle Blackmer, who started for four seasons. Both were part of the 2005 state Class B championship team.
What was evident against Westhill was that the new starters were quite capable of applying pressure on one end and strong defense on the other. The trick was how to finish plays off.
Westhill seized a 1-0 lead when, just 5:25 into the match, Vince Scaravillo ripped a shot from the left side past Jon Quick, Blackmer's successor in the net.
From there, the Mustangs' back line stepped up, as defenders Jeff Crysler and Tim McNaney protected Quick and stood up to Westhill's physical play in a match where several yellow cards got handed out. Quick, once he settled in, picked up six saves.
Meanwhile, the Mustangs had all kinds of chances to get on the board in the first half, but kept firing shots off line or, in one case, hitting the left post. Even when it got goalie Ryan McBride out of position in one early attack, defender Taylor Price kicked it out of trouble.